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With so many Kilimanjaro outfitters, what factors do people consider when ultimately choosing their guide company?

We asked our past clients why they climbed with Peak Planet – the Best Guides on Mount Kilimanjaro.

Here’s what they had to say.

“A quality outfitter with medically trained guides” – Lenore Parr

During my research, I read guidebooks and several blogs. I came across many positive reviews for Peak Planet and noted their high success rate. I believed that Peak Planet provided the perfect balance of safety, service and price.

For me, a quality outfitter with medically trained guides was the most important consideration. In the unfortunate event that I became injured or sick while on the mountain, I had to trust that the guide team could treat me and get me down in an emergency. Peak Planet’s focus to safety was apparent through its established guidelines and procedures. This was my main reason in choosing Peak Planet.

Also noteworthy was the company’s attention to food. Cooking on Kilimanjaro must be a hard task. But Peak Planet assured me that their meals were hot, fresh, delicious, varied, and plentiful. That really appealed to me. I was happy that I would be able to eat high quality, nutrient rich food throughout the climb. On the trek, the mess hall tent was our favorite place thanks to the talented chef.

I must add that comfort was another factor. Peak Planet conveyed that they would make as comfortable of an experience as possible while hiking a dominating and mystical mountain. The campsite would be assembled for us upon arrival. The tents were high quality – dry and warm. Foam sleeping pads were provided. And of course the private toilet tent would make being at camp more enjoyable, especially for the middle of the night bathroom trips.

I reached out to Peak Planet several times with extensive pre-climbing questions that were always thoroughly responded to promptly. I found it extremely valuable to be able to communicate with a person in the United States who was able to provide reliable answers to our questions and insight from their firsthand experiences. I was confident I had made the right choice before even starting the trip.

The services we received both before our hike, as well as on the mountain far exceeded those of many other operators we observed. Our team took care of every detail making the entire expedition a joy. We were beyond satisfied with Peak Planet. The devotion, hard work, and expertise made our summit possible while maximizing our enjoyment.

“Nothing but Glowing Reviews” – Ed Patrick

Our interest in climbing Kilimanjaro came from a conversation with our friend’s sister-in-law. She’d mentioned climbing with Peak Planet on her own trek and had nothing but glowing reviews, from the planning phase of her trip all the way to the summit and back.

She mentioned that the company prided themselves on the ethical treatment of their porters, and we later found on their website information that discussed a special designation Peak Planet had (being a KPAP Partner Company), which is only attained by trekking companies who work diligently to improve working conditions on the mountain and whom meet strict guidelines surrounding wages.

So before we’d even discussed at any length whether we were actually going to climb Kilimanjaro, we knew that if we did, we were going to climb with Peak Planet.

At the point of booking, we’d only ever done simple day hikes in the Adirondacks, so we knew quite literally nothing about trekking companies, what services they provide, or how much vs. how little of our trip we’d have to plan. Peak Planet alleviated all of those concerns from the onset.

We were on their highly detailed website perusing each and every page, and we became especially reliant on the FAQ page, which addressed numerous questions and concerns related to travel and all the travel-related logistics that needed to be planned for. On the rare occasion we couldn’t find a piece of information on the website, we sent emails to our Peak Planet contacts. No matter how basic or multifaceted our questions were, we always received quick, courteous responses that made every effort to eliminate any guesswork.

When we boarded our flight to Tanzania, we had complete confidence that we were in good hands. We knew exactly who was picking us up, what to look for, where we were staying, and what time on each day we’d be shuttled from location to location.

What struck us about Peak Planet was the experience level of their guides, many of whom summit Kilimanjaro as many as 20 times a year and 200-300 times total! We were so astonished by what we read, that we made it a point on the mountain to bring this up in conversation with several of our guides and, sure enough, many of them couldn’t even count the number of times they’d been up and down the mountain. Worth mentioning, so enamored with our guides were we, we still keep in touch with a number of them to this day.

“Climbing Kilimanjaro wasn’t just one of many guided mountain trips they offered, but it was all they did” – Karen Vielle

A friend invited me to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro with her. She had researched guide companies extensively on her own and had decided to climb with Peak Planet.

Later on, it became apparent that she was not going to be able to go on the trip. But I continued to plan the trip without her. I looked up Peak Planet and also researched several other popular guide companies. After reading what they had to offer, it was easy to see why my friend had settled on Peak Planet.

I liked that they specialized only in trips to Tanzania. Climbing Kilimanjaro wasn’t just one of many guided mountain trips they offered, but it was all they did. Because of this, I felt like Peak Planet had a breadth and depth of knowledge of this mountain that was not present with other guide companies.

I was also impressed with the attention to detail in the preparation materials and the experience level of the guides. As I began working with Peak Planet staff to book and plan the trip, it was clear that the person I was dealing with had climbed the mountain before and thoroughly understood the types of concerns and questions that I had. Responses were always prompt and friendly. I felt like I was interacting with a peer and fellow traveler, rather than a faceless company.

The price also seemed very reasonable, compared to similar trips offered through other outfitters. I liked the choices of routes, the coordination with the local guides, the emphasis on providing nourishing meals, and their well-thought-out safety procedures. I appreciated the selection of items that could be rented. I would not have to spend a lot of money to buy special equipment that may never get used again and could travel with a much smaller suitcase.

For all of these reasons, I confidently selected Peak Planet. I could not have been happier with that decision. On the mountain, all of our needs were met. Our group was small enough that I bonded readily with my fellow travelers. On summit day, 9 of our group of 13 made it to the top. Many larger tour groups on the mountain that day did not have anywhere near that success rate. We felt special.

My favorite souvenir from the trip is not the Kilimanjaro t-shirt I bought from the hawkers at the end of the trail, but the Peak Planet t-shirt I received for writing a review of my trip. To this day, it is one of my favorite t-shirts.

“I took a methodical approach. Peak Planet always met or exceeded my criteria.” –  Kimberley Phillips

After I decided to climb Mount Kilimanjaro I began the process of exploring guide companies. There are so many companies out there – each proclaiming to provide an amazing experience guiding you up the mountain. And of course, they all seem to have rave reviews. So, how can one sort through all the information and select a responsible, reliable company?

As I researched and planned for the trip, I identified several factors that were important in making my decision. I took a methodical approach to sorting through the companies, rating them on the following considerations:

  • Does the company ensure the guides and porters are reliable, trustworthy, and trained in health and safety issues? Since I would literally be putting my life in the hands of strangers, I wanted to ensure that the guides and porters would be able to provide a safe experience. The best companies screen all of the staff – guides, cooks, and porters –before employment, ensure they are well trained in safety protocols, and experienced on the mountain. Additionally, I wanted to ensure that a knowledgeable local guide would be on the trip, as this provides a richness to the travel experience – one that cannot be delivered from guides brought in from elsewhere.
  • How does the company look after the health and safety of clients? The best companies will assess each client’s physical and mental health each day, and if the guide feels an individual is struggling with altitude sickness or other issue, they will intervene.
  • Does the company pay their staff a proper wage? It was essential to me that the guide company I chose treated their staff exceptionally well. Many guide companies do not pay their staff proper wages, do not limit the loads that they carry or provide essential items like sleeping bags. The companies that do will proudly present this information on their website.
  • Does the company demonstrate care and respect for the outdoor environment? Is care and respect for the outdoor environment demonstrated by packing out all waste generated by clients and staff?
  • Where is the company based? For me, a US-based office meant I could easily talk with someone if I wanted and not just communicate via email.
  • What pretrip guidance does the company provide? At a minimum I wanted to receive guidance on what to bring and how to pack, but also recommendations for endurance training to increase the odds of success.
  • What is the quality of shared gear and equipment? High quality equipment – tents don’t leak and can withstand the harsh winds and environment on the mountain are essential.
  • What is the quality of food on the trek? Food needs to be not only nutritionally balanced – but tasty and plentiful to keep you going on this strenuous hike at altitude. Additionally, if a company will accommodate dietary restrictions that indicates they have experience with a variety of dietary concerns and can ensure the needs of clients will be met.
  • Does the company provide a private toilet tent? Trust me, you need this.

As I did my research and evaluated companies, Peak Planet always met or exceeded my criteria.  On the website and over the phone, detailed information was readily available. One thing I noticed during my research is that many companies simply do not address some of the above questions or if they do, the information provided is brief.

Once I was in Moshi, I developed a quick rapport with the guides, cook, and porters for our climb. All were friendly, respectful, and seemed genuinely happy with their work. My guides were so knowledgeable and tolerated all our questions about history, flora and fauna. We readily shared information about ourselves and had good conversations about families, dreams, and life.

On the mountain, I witnessed the staff eating well and carrying limited loads. Our guides would check in with each of us each morning and evening, assessing our physical and mental health. I knew that if I was experiencing any symptoms of altitude sickness or illness it would be detected and the guides would do what was necessary to ensure I remained safe. And the food on our climb was terrific!  The cooks were simply amazing, with each meal being delicious and plentiful.

Choosing Peak Planet as my guide company for my Mt Kilimanjaro climb was the best decision I made. My trip was an amazing experience and I never doubted my health or safety – I could fully immerse myself in the experience and the wonder of each day just trekking on the mountain.

 

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